This update contains information on the following topics:
The Academic Quality and Standards Committee has now approved all Postgraduate Taught examination conventions which were submitted by departments in Summer/Autumn 2011. As colleagues will be aware, the new conventions were introduced to allow the award of a new 'merit' classification at PGT level from 2011/12 academic year.
The majority of PGT conventions approved have been posted online. Where conventions are missing, this is most likely because the full text has not been submitted centrally, and we would be grateful to receive a copy in such instances. If the departmental conventions posted online are not as you would expect to see, then please do also get in touch with the Teaching Quality Team.
The Academic Quality and Standards Committee recently approved a proposal for time limits to be introduced for dealing with complaints submitted under the student academic complaints procedure. In tandem, AQSC also approved guidelines for departments responding to complaints submitted under the complaints procedure. Both are available for download from the Academic Registrar's Office web-site (staff only).
Departments are asked that the guidelines are brought to the attention of staff, and that they seek to incorporate the guidance into the induction processes for new staff.
At its meeting in March 2012 Senate approved a number of changes to the Good Practice Guide on Monitoring Attendance and Progress in light of recommendations arising from a recent Internal Audit report on compliance with immigration legislation. In summary the amendments are as follows:
- Clarification has been given regarding the purpose of the annual reporting exercise on monitoring schemes and the information that departments will be asked to provide (Section 1b);
- Clarification has also been given on the process for approval of monitoring schemes through the annual review process and in-year (Section 2);
- The process to be followed when students miss 6 monitoring points has been amended. (Sections 1b and 4);
- Clarification as to the University’s responsibilities with respect to compliance with legislation requirements has been provided (Section 1c);
- Additional guidance has been provided on the information to be included in student handbooks (Section 1b);
- Reporting requirements for students on joint and cross-departmental degrees have been amended (Section 6);
- Guidance on reporting requirements for visiting and exchange students have been amended, in particular to clarify reporting on incoming visiting and exchange students (Sections 8).
In order to meet our legal obligations, departments are asked to ensure that staff responsible for having oversight of monitoring schemes are aware of these changes and that information for students is updated accordingly.
Work continues to implement and introduce the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) at Warwick for graduating undergraduate students in Summer 2012. The HEAR aims to give undergraduate students a fuller record of their achievements whilst at university, for example by including information about volunteering and sporting achievement, positions held at the Students' Union and prizes won as well as information about the Degree Classification awarded - currently captured in the transcript. It is hoped that this additional information will prove useful to both graduates entering the job market and to employers.
The HEAR project, overseen by a project board reporting to the Academic Quality and Standards Committee, remains on schedule although there remains much to do in introducing new systems prior to the point of issue in late-July/early-August 2012. To mitigate against the risks inherent in a challenging delivery schedule, a number of alternative contingency plans have been developed against a range of possible scenarios to ensure that there are no negative implications for the student experience should any delays be encountered.
Departments can find out the latest information about the HEAR project online. In meetings with departmental administrators throughout the Easter vacation, we are currently discussing the implications and data gathering requirements in relation to recording detail of students prizes and more widely. Further information will be made available in mid-May 2012.
The Teaching Quality (TQ) and Management Information and Planning (MIP) teams are coordinating the work required to introduce the new Key Information Sets (KIS) for undergraduate courses by October 2012. TQ have been meeting with departments throughout March and April to discuss the content of the KIS, the background data required, and the production process. MIP will manage the data processing and submission of the data to HESA.
A small working group is also being convened to manage the final stages of implementation of the KIS, in particular in relation to developing an appropriate communication strategy and providing guidance to academic and service departments in responding to queries regarding the KIS. In the coming months, it will be necessary to liaise with departments to consider the KIS data in detail, and to reflect on whether it will be necessary to incorporate any additional contextual information to detail distinctive features of courses which might not be apparent to prospective students from the raw data.
Any queries on the KIS can be directed in the first instance to the Teaching Quality Team.
In the Spring Term AQSC reviewed the University’s current practices on external examining in light of new QAA guidance and requirements. A number of changes in reporting and practice were accordingly approved by Senate at its meeting in March for implementation from August 2012 and are listed below:
- Names, positions and institutions of external examiners will be published from August 2012. External examiners were informed earlier in the year that the University was considering this proposal and confirmation will be provided to them in due course of Senate’s decision. It will be made clear that students should not contact external examiners directly, and external examiners will be advised to refer any such communications, should they receive them, back to the University.
- External Examiner report forms will be amended to request more explicit statements on good practice and innovation they have identified and to ask whether recommendations they have previously made have been addressed.
- Provisions for termination of the appointment of an external examiner have been amended to include any conflicts of interest.
- Amendments will be made to eligibility for appointment and to the nomination form to cover an additional criterion set out by the QAA.
- The Guidance Notes will be amended to provide clarification on the role on the External Examiner and on opportunities for External Examiners to meet with students.
- Departmental response forms will be amended to ask that reasons for not taking action in response to External Examiners’ recommendations be set out.
Departments will be notified in due course when the revised documents are published but should you wish to have sight of the relevant paperwork in advance please contact the Teaching Quality Team.
(i) Amendments to the Credit and Module Framework (November 2011)
Section 4 of the University Credit and Module Framework was revised in November 2011 to provide clarification regarding the meaning of 'stage 1' language modules, and also in relation to credit requirements for integrated masters degrees.
(ii) Policy on Examination Arrangements for Students with Disabilities (January 2012)
Senate approved a policy on examination arrangements for students with disabilities, as recommended by the Board of Undergraduate Studies.
(iii) Policy on the Recording of Lectures (March 2012)
Academic Quality and Standards Committee proposed a University policy on the recording of lectures, subsequently approved by Senate, in response to queries from several departments. It should be noted that, if a recording of a lecture has been permitted, all students in the class should be notified for Data Protection purposes.
We would like to take the opportunity to remind departments that any accreditation or review reports from PSRBs need to be considered by the Academic Quality and Standards Committee (AQSC). Reports, together with a commentary from departments on actions being taken in response to any recommendations should be submitted to the Teaching Quality team. In addition, AQSC considers briefing reports on upcoming accreditation and review visits and departments are reminded to submit the form available online 4 to 6 months prior to a review taking place.